Monica Smith

Attorney Monica Smith joins the Vera Institute of Justice as the associate director of policy and advocacy for the In Our Backyards Initiative. She works on criminal legal system reform efforts dedicated to ending mass incarceration in America’s small cities, towns, and rural areas.

Previously, Monica coordinated nationwide decarceral efforts in both the criminal legal and immigration systems at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, including a one million-dollar, 27 city bail out in the summer of 2020. In her prior role as director of court advocacy at the Youth Justice Network (formerly Friends of Island Academy), Monica partnered with community advocates to minimize the length of stay for individuals held at Rikers Island in New York City.

Monica began her career as a public defender in Kentucky and later in Louisiana. She earned a B.A. in political science from Xavier University of Louisiana and J. D. from Southern University Law Center.